Hitting snooze every morning instead of actually getting up and getting to your practice?
Scheduling classes, meetings or work events at the same time you were hoping to get out to go take your own class?
Does your yoga mat now sit under your desk at work or collect dust in the corner of your bedroom closet?
Many of us have good intentions of making our own personal yoga practice happen – unfortunately though more often than not, our own practice can be the first thing that we let go of when life gets busy and is often the last thing that gets re-scheduled.
As a teacher of yoga I have found this to be the case with my own personal practice many times – particularly when I first started teaching. The excitement of being able to share a practice, philosophy and art that had transformed my own life slowly started to edge out the the time I had previously made available for myself.
A day off the mat would turn into a week, a week then became 2 weeks and suddenly a month had passed and I didn’t even know where my mat was!
As a result, I would feel disconnected, lost, inadequate and above all inauthentic. How could I honestly and genuinely share the experience of yoga if I wasn’t regularly experiencing it myself? How could I expect my students to show up and commit to a practice that I myself was letting slip?
It took the guidance and a bit of tough love from my own teacher to be able to see that letting my own personal practice slip was not serving me or my students. Upon deeper reflection I realized that the only thing that was really getting in the way of making my practice happen was me.
I had to make a commitment that my own practice would take priority for me to feel more connected, energised and centred – not only in my personal life but in my teaching too.
As teachers we are not able to give out more than what we have and I think we can only authentically share what it is that we have learnt and continue to learn.
If you too are struggling, here are 5 things that I have found useful for myself and my students to help make the practice actually happen:
1. Schedule it.
Basically Time Management 101. Put the time of your practice in your calendar and keep the appointment with the same ferocity you keep an appointment with the hairdresser you were wait-listed for 3 months to see. Make this appointment sharable with your partner and/or colleagues and non-negotiable in terms of it being moved.
2. Follow the 2 Day Rule.
Don’t let more than 2 days pass without making your practice happen. Anymore than this and you risk falling down the spiral that then sees you weeks or maybe months without practicing. Once you get off the train – it’s hard to get back on – I know this from personal experience. This is also a good way to keep your practice consistent.
3. Choose the right practice.
We all need different practices at different times. Forcing yourself to get to a practice that doesn’t resonate with your body, mind or spirit is just not going to be sustainable. There are so many styles of yoga to choose from. Find a style and a teacher that you love and that you walk away from feeling energized and grounded. It’s more likely you will return to something that makes you feel good.
4. Book and pay for your classes or workshops in advance.
As teachers many of us have the advantage of practicing for free at the studios we teach at which means we can take for granted the support and energy of a group practice. Visit another studio or book into some workshops ahead of the actual date. If you have already paid in advance for a class or workshop with a specific teacher at another studio there is certainly more incentive to show up for it.
5. Practice at Home.
If practicing at a studio is not a viable option then roll out the mat at home! Here you get to decide what and how you practice and for exactly how long. Remind yourself that yoga is not all about mastering crazy looking asana’s – you can choose to meditate, take a few yin or restorative poses just to name a few of the myriad of options.
Of course life and circumstances sometimes mean that even the best of plans and strategies don’t play out the way we want. But I’ve learnt that what is important is not how often you fall off the train but how quickly you can jump back on. May your practice be joyful and regular!